Thoughts from Father Dan Fitzpatrick SJ on the Fifth Sunday of Lent.

5th Sunday of Lent – 2020

            A major theme that runs through St John’s Gospel is the continuing conflict between life and death. Recall that two weeks ago we heard the encounter between Jesus and the Samaritan woman. He offers her “life-giving water.” The water is the sign of new life for her. She leaves behind her old life with its death dealing ways.

            Last week Jesus healed the man born blind. The conflict is there between light and darkness, life and death. Jesus has come to call us out of darkness, out of the death of sin to bring us to the new life of grace.

            Today the conflict between life and death becomes explicit. Jesus calls Lazarus out of the tomb of darkness and death to new life. Jesus says to Martha, Lazarus’ sister: “I am the resurrection and the life; whoever believes in me, even if he/she dies, will live….”

“Do you believe this?” To her great credit Martha answers:” Yes, Lord, I have come to believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who is coming into the world.”

            The whole world is now engaged in this great struggle between life and death. One way or another the coronavirus has affected us all. When Jesus comes to Lazarus’ tomb, He weeps. So many people across the globe are weeping as they see their loved ones suffering and dying. This virus has brought us all before the mystery of death. Jesus did not say to Martha do you understand but rather do you believe. Like this virus, death is a great mystery that touches us all. We hope that one day science will help us understand the virus. Death, however, remains a great mystery before which we all bow in humility.

            This virus reminds us all that we all live in the shadow of death. For us Christians, the answer to this mystery is not a proposition but a Person, Jesus Himself. He drives away Martha’s fear and grief. Our faith in Jesus leads us beyond death to life. He raises Lazarus to new life.

            In just two weeks we will see Jesus go through the mystery of death Himself. He is one with us even in death. As He goes through death, Jesus comes to an even greater mystery, Resurrection. Now we know what He meant when He told Martha that He was Resurrection and Life. It is our faith in the Risen Lord that strengthens us at this time of suffering and death. Through the eyes of faith, we see that Christ is with all those suffering throughout the world. We know that Christ wants to bring them through their suffering and death to new life. Through our union with Christ, we are in union with them all. Our prayer becomes magnified as we reach out across the country and the world and ask the Risen Lord to watch over all both near and far.

Reflection for prayer:

Take some time to sit with Martha and Mary. How do they feel at the loss of their brother?  The Gospel tells us that Jesus loved Martha, Mary and Lazarus. Can you feel that love Jesus has for them? What a difference for them that He was there with them. Let the love of Jesus has for you come over you. Know His love. Know His love for everyone and be with Him as He looks across the globe with compassion on all who are suffering and dying and on all who are caring for them.

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